Tulare DA fumes as violent, repeat felon walks after sawed-off shotgun conviction

Tulare County prosecutors argued the repeat felon was eligible for up to six years imprisonment on a lengthy list of convictions.

Ten felony convictions, capped by wasn’t enough to convince a Tulare County Judge to keep 45-year-old Sarah Garcia behind bars.

Garcia, a parolee who was arrested in 2018 on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a sawed-off shotgun among other criminal offenses, pleaded no contest to a half-dozen crimes and was granted probation by local jurists over the objections of Tulare County prosecutors.


Driving the news: According to court documents, in 2018, Garcia and Rudy Esquivel attacked a victim in Visalia, stabbing him in the back of the head while they were smoking methamphetamine. The victim was able to call 911 and received treatment. Both Garcia and Esquivel were later arrested in the victim’s car.

  • Garcia pleaded to assault with a deadly weapon in February 2019 and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.
  • While on parole in October 2020, she was caught with a loaded sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, marijuana, and a smoking device.
  • In January 2023, Garcia pleaded no contest to several charges, including being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, possession of cannabis for sale, and possession of a meth pipe.
  • She pleaded no contest to the gun and drug charges and was sentenced by Judge Antonio Reyes, a Brown appointee, to time served and felony probation.

The other side: Despite Garcia’s violent criminal history and disregard for parole supervision, the court declined to increase her punishment with reference to her prior Three Strikes offense.

  • Prosecutors argued that Garcia’s plea carried more than six years imprisonment under current California sentencing laws.

What they’re saying: Tulare County DA Tim Ward expressed disappointment with the sentence, stating that it sends the wrong message to law enforcement, the public, and criminals.

  • “This defendant demonstrated a recent willingness to commit violent acts and a conscious disregard for her parole supervision. It is unbelievable that the best the court can muster is time served and probation. This sentence sends the wrong message to law enforcement, the public, and criminals. Our communities deserve better,” Ward said in a statement.
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